Saturday, March 18, 2023

Opinion: Agriculture producers and suppliers need to come together to address rural mental-health and suicide crisis

By Amber Weaver

Agriculture is facing a problem no single brand can fix: mental health.

Unfortunately, no amount of marketing, technology or even seed chemistry can fix the ongoing crisis of mental health and suicide in rural communities. And not one company or government can come up with a cure on their own to fix this. However, if the industry comes together, we can make a difference by starting a tough conversation.

“It’s actually probably one of the simplest things that anybody can do and that is starting a conversation and it’s trying to make sure that people understand one, that the issues are there and that they’re not alone. Two, that they there are resources out there and helping them to find those resources and then breaking the stigma. I mean, we do not give ourselves the grace that we give to others, and it is an industry that is willing to help others, but we are terrible at asking for help,” says Lisa Homer, senior communications manager for FMC Corp., an ag-chemicals manufacturer.

Homer says it does not have to be a difficult conversation, but it does make the difference in saving a life: “I mean, it’s as simple as ‘You’re not yourself. What’s going on? Are you OK? I know you know a lot’s going on yeah, etcetera.’ And just showing that you care.”

Once they know how much you care and that no judgment is being made, then steps can be taken if extra help is needed because they are not alone, Homer says: “Statistics show that 40% of growers feel that it is a sign of weakness to admit that they need health or that they are having mental health issues and it can be, you know, depression. It can be anxiety. It can lead to bigger issues and this isn’t just about suicide, and which is the the worst possible end game for this.”

Homer says it is important to reiterate that no one has to feel that way and help is available for the entire farm family. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, the Farm Crisis Hotline is always available, and you can reach that by calling 800-464-0258 or go online here.

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